Glad that you liked the HBR article about Morning Star, a company which has successfully removed management as we know it.
I think that the Morning Star story might be worth further consideration here at some point, there is a lot of interesting things in that article. I think that my suggestion of improving work by doing away with management (borrowed from the HBR article) and your suggestion regarding conflict actually are somewhat interwoven. Having an organization without dedicated management requires a greater willingness and ability to deal directly with conflict, rather than running to a manager or an HR business partner. I think there are a whole lot of things that human beings can do fairly well, that they have basically stopped doing at work…simply because of what the environment rewards and what it punishes. Dealing directly with issues and people. Telling the truth. Asking big questions. Following their curiosity. Looking out for each other. Taking naps. Etc.
But back to your challenge.
I am deeply interested in understanding the natural dynamics and tendencies of things and people, and the idea that information wants to be free has always been very compelling to me. I have recently been drawn to a similar idea that is maybe relevant to our work. I think that work also wants to be free. Work wants to be done well, work not done well needs to be re-visited and generally creates more work. Work wants to be free, it wants to find (and be found by) talent with the right combination of time, attention, skill and passion.
Rather than creating a market where work and talent can find each other, we have commoditized both and created a bunch of costly friction between the two. We build “jobs”(collections of tasks, responsibilities, etc.) that often come with ridiculous “job descriptions,” and exist inside of specific departments at specific locations and at certain levels, etc. Even when they exist inside the same organization work and the best talent often have a hard time finding each other.
Get rid of it all.
Now that we have done away with management (and saved a trainload of money), and given everyone great conflict management skills, I want to set work free.
No more titles, jobs, or job descriptions. When a team decides that they need to bring additional fire power on board, they simply set about looking for someone that can add value to the team…once they come aboard they work with their peers in determining how best to do that. Let people seek out the work that they are called to, let people craft their own job…keeping in mind that there are things that need to be done and everyone needs to make their contribution. Accountability and authentic relationships become critical.
Joe.. “job descriptions” are the number one reason I’m not in the “job” I envision. I don’t fit a “job description.” Yet, I could be their secret weapon…and they don’t even know it.
It’s been suggested, by industry “experts”, that I “dial in” my resume to fit the job I’m looking to obtain. If I “don’t fit…precisely, then what’s the point?”
Until such time as employers focus less on the “definition” of a job and focus more on the fine art of mixing collaborative, innovative people together in new and inventive ways, I suppose I shall remain in the shadows.
Yeah man, I think there is a lot of people, resources, skills and talents lurking in the talents. This is one of the ways that our antiquated models of “the organization” and “management” are very wasteful with our precious intangible assets. Good to hear from you man, hope things are well. Happy winter.
Hello talent anarchists,
I’m gathering stories for an eBook series tentatively titled “Different Work.” It’s clear that you are walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and I’d love to include your story in the book.
We define different work as 1) a group (usually) that, 2) deeply loves their work (most days) and who 3) are working differently together than what they used to think work should be as individuals, and 4) are significantly changing what work looks and feels like for themselves and their families, communities, and/or organizations.
Links to more about us below. Holler if you’re interested. We’d be happy to share your story with our communities however you’d like it told.
Lori Kane, Ed.D., Community & Self-Organizing Groups Researcher
Bas de Baar